MOREHEAD — Walter “Doc” Blevins can now add county judge-executive to his extensive political resume after beating his opponent, Richard White, by 446 votes Tuesday night in Rowan County.
Blevins began his political career in the General Assembly in 1982 as a state representative from Morgan County. He then ran and succeeded in becoming a state senator.
During his first term as a senator, he also ran for Congress against Rep. Hal Rogers, R-5th, in the early 1990s, but was soundly defeated and settled into his Senate position.
As Blevins was a Democratic candidate, he was part of the state Senate minority party. He said being in the minority hindered him from successfully moving legislation, which was just one of the many reasons he said he decided to step down and run for Rowan judge-executive.
Blevins stepped into a primary against five other Democratic opponents. He said the primary was tough, especially since he was the only candidate not born and raised in Rowan. Blevins was born in Paintsville and raised in West Liberty.
But he still felt connected to the Rowan County community after representing the area for nearly 20 years in the state legislature and being a Morehead State University alumnus.
Just after opening his dental practice in Morehead, Blevins entered his first race for state representative.
He said he has much to offer Rowan County, the most important gift being his focused attention.
“I believe I can get more things done here. I now only have one community, one county,” he said, referring to previously splitting his time between several other counties as a state senator.
Though the primary was challenging, he said the general election against White was “very tough competition.”
For one, his opponent was originally from Rowan County. Blevins has also faced White in four previous elections for state offices.
Blevins said White ran a negative campaign against him, especially with his ads including research Blevins claimed was inaccurate.
Blevins’ main strategy was to refute “flaws in ads and point out numbers that were wrong,” specifically mentioning incorrect statistics White used to discuss unemployment rates in the county. White claimed Rowan had 10 percent unemployment, while Blevins claimed the numbers to actually be 5.8 percent.
He also said White outspent him in the campaign nearly 4 to 1. Blevins said he raised just enough money to compete.
Though he had less in his war chest, he said knocking on doors is what made the difference for him, calling face-to-face contact the “best kind of campaign.”
“I’ve been either their (Rowan residents) representative or senator for 20 to 30 years ... I think people know me. I go to ball games, fish frys at the fire departments, bake sales, anywhere to see how people feel about things and figure out how to make their lives better,” Blevins said. “If you’re a good senator and a good representative, it’s hard to tear someone down.”
On election night, Blevins met up with his wife, his youngest brother and his nephew to watch returns from the Rowan County Courthouse. After shaking hands with fellow winners and greeting a few supporters, Blevins returned home that night, keeping in mind the business to come in the days ahead.
He said he is going to retire his dental practice and focus all of his time on operating the judge-executive’s office.
He said his first order of business will be to build the new county jail, improve recreational facilities and begin collecting funds for the new technical college site he hopes is developed along the John Will Stacy Industrial Parkway.
LANA BELLAMY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653. For Twitter updates, follow @lanabellamy_DI.